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17 posts from March 2007

March 27, 2007

How To Get Started As A Writer: Just the FAQs

BookI've been meaning to dash off a writing FAQ for a while.

I finally decided to take a crack at it today, in response to a post on one of my other blogs.

You can read the results here.

March 25, 2007

Political Compass Tool

CompassI found out about this really cool political compass while checking out some of the links over at Section 15.

Basically, the compass allows you to determine your political coordinates (I'm Economic Left/Right: -7.38; Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.18 which apparently means that Ghandi, the Dalai Lama and I would have done well in the same party, if I didn't drive them crazy by being too left/libertarian).

Here's how the folks behind the compass (a journalist and an academic) positioned some of the major Canadian political parties using the compass in 2005.

You'll note that The Green Party is notably absent. (Clearly, they'd be hanging out in quadrant left/libertarian. I just can't see them wanting to hang up their shingle in Harper Valley (authoritarian/right) ).

Lakefield, Ontario: Moms in a Nuttshell


Moms in a Nuttshell
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

Feel like you could use some coffee and some pampering? All you have to do is head to the Nutshell Next Door coffee shop in Lakefield on one of the next few Monday evenings (March 26, April 9, April 23 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm; see poster for further details). What a great way to connect moms in a small town. Why not borrow this idea and get something similar happening in your neighbourhood?

March 24, 2007

Pat Schroeder on Ageism in Politics and Society

50"Ageism's very strong against women in our society. I should bring in to you all the [notes] I get from people telling me to dye my hair, that I look like the great gray ape of the Congress. And I keep saying, in the ape community, they revere their gray apes."

- Patricia Schroeder, who served 12 terms as a Congresswoman from Colorado and retired undefeated in 1996. (She is, now the president of the Washington- and New York-based Association of American Publishers.)

Related:
Political Math 101

March 23, 2007

Political Math 101: 50-Something's Too Old for a Woman -- But Not for a Man -- in Politics

KnittingAgeism is alive and well in Peterborough County. Or at least that's what you'd be inclined to believe by reading the print edition of today's Peterborough Examiner.

Former Liberal MP Peter Adams is pitching Brendan Moher as the youth candidate in the Federal Liberal nomination race in Peterborough Riding.

"I think there should be a generational change (in the party)," Adams notes. "I look toward youth and Brendan is clearly the youngest of our candidates."

Adams notes that he is no longer supporting Diane Lloyd, the candidate he supported in the last election. ("I've discussed this with Diane and it's not easy. We were proud to work with Diane.")

There's nothing wrong with someone who has enjoyed a distinguished career in politics mentoring along someone he seems as a worthy successor. But mentoring should ideally involve teaching the political protegé how to stick to the high political ground. Publically humiliating the candidate of record (The headine read "Adams Spurns Lloyd, Backs Moher in Race") and taking potshots at political rivals on the basis of their age reeks of the kind of "old boy" backroom political smear tactics that most Canadians have grown weary of in recent months.

It's also a very odd tactic to take in a riding that boasts the second highest per capita rate of senior citizens in the country, the majority of whom are female. (And past their political "best before date," it would seem.)

Besides, pushing Moher as the representative of a new generation in the party and "the youngest of our candidates" sounds slightly ridiculous when you consider that all three candidates are in their 50s (the Examiner notes that both Lloyd and McGregor are "about 59" while Moher is "about 50"). [Hey, maybe I should file my nomination papers and call myself the extreme youth candidate. (I'm 43.)]

But apparently there's a world of difference between a man heading to Ottawa in his 50s and a woman heading to Ottawa in her 50s -- at least in the minds of some old boys -- including one old boy who was first elected to the House of Commons in Peterborough Riding at the age of 57 and who retired from that position at the age of 69. What's up with that?

------------
Postscript:

What's really sad about this whole thing is that I'm losing faith in the political system and it's ability to work at the grassroots level. I'm also very sad to see one of my long-time heroes strike out so unfairly at someone who has so much to offer Peterborough Riding; and who has just as much right to be running in this Riding as the candidate he has chosen to back. By right of birthright, by virtue of service, and on the basis of experience, education, and everything else that really matters at the end of the day, Betsy McGregor is a top-calibre candidate and individual.

I also feel outraged on behalf of Diane Lloyd -- the other candidate in this race. She deserved better than than this. (I tried to reach her by phone this afternoon to say so, but she was out, and I felt awkward leaving a message. I think I'll send her an email instead.)

Related:
the Ontario Women's Liberal Commission's Campaign College for Women Candidates
Democracy Through Partnership Between Men and Women in Politics
Inter-Parliamentary Union:Women in Politics: Women Politicians in the Media
Women Win Ageism Case Against Virgin
In the Trenches Productions

Betsy McGregor: Candidate for the Federal Liberal Nomination, Peterborough Riding

Img_3106Betsy McGregor's website is now online. Her blog will continue to provide campaign news as we head into the final leg of the Federal nomination campaign here in Peterborough Riding.

If you check out Betsy's blog, you'll see that Betsy was on The Hill as the budget was being tabled, meeting with party leaders and key decision makers and that she's got some really progressive ideas about how democracy should work -- a process that she's already started to put into place through a series of open houses, town hall meetings, breakfast forums, and think tanks on various issues.

Betsy has also articulated a vision that speaks volumes of who she is as a person, her motivations for entering politics, how hard she will work on our behalf -- and the kind of results we can expect from a candidate of this calibre:

"What I'm talking about is an entirely new way of approaching politics," says Betsy. "Something fresh and new and full of possibilities; a style of politics in which the citizen rather than the elected official is celebrated and given a powerful voice again; where cooperation and openness and transparency and inclusiveness are fundamental principles.

"The winds of change are in the air, and they've been in the air since early December, when the Liberal Party elected a visionary new leader, a man of tremendous wisdom and integrity -- someone who captured the hearts and imaginations of many Canadians when he uttered these inspiring words: 'Canadians will embrace [the Liberal Party's] generous vision of a prosperous Canada, a just Canada, a sustainable Canada. We will do it together, for our children, the generations yet to come, and for the role of Canada in the world.'

"Let us imagine such possibilities for Peterborough Riding. Let us build on the momentum that has been created during this campaign and envision grassroots solutions that make their way from the streets and fields of our cities and towns all the way to The Hill. Let's also imagine a style of politics that is respectful of people -- all people -- without exception. Just imagine."

Power vs. Passion: Mars and Venus Enter Politics

Graffitino"[Women] often got into the political process because they were inflamed by a particular issue, angered and feeling like they had to come in to try to change the system. And so it's a different route than men often will take, because men often will say I really want to be prime minister of this country and I'm going to work my way towards that. I'm going to do what it takes to get to that position of power so it's a somewhat different approach."
- Laura Liswood, Secretary General of the Council of Women World leaders, quoted at BBC World Service: Women in Power

March 16, 2007

A Shout Out for Christina Cherneskey

This is a letter I've been meaning to send to Christina Cherneskey all week. Finally -- late on a Friday afternoon -- I found the time to write it and to send it to her via her website. Like many Canadian authors, I've had the opportunity to be interviewed by Christina on a number of occasions while I've been out on the book tour trail promoting one or the other of my books. She has a great sense of humour and she is really respectful of both her audience and the people she books on her shows -- a real class act. But she's not all Ms. Nicey-Nice. She can be very passionate about issues that really matter. She has a strong sense of justice and she's not afraid to grill politicians in order to get answers (but always in a respectful way). I think she'd bring something refreshing to the House of Commons: passion and dignity; intelligence and the ability to play fair. I only wish I was allowed to vote in Christina's riding (hey, I grew up in nearby Mississauga South) because I have no doubt that she would serve this riding well.

Anyway, here's the note I sent to Christina:

MailboxChristina, I was so thrilled to hear you announce that you are running for the Liberal nomination in Mississauga-Streetsville Riding. (I happened to tune into your radio show on Monday while I was driving between Peterborough and Kingston.) I tried to dial in to congratulate you but the phone lines were jammed. No surprise there: you have earned a reputation for being a person of integrity: someone fair-minded who is deeply concerned about how "the little guy" is faring. It's no wonder you have so many friends and supporters.

I just wanted to swing by your site to wish you all the best with your nomination bid. I've been a member of Betsy McGregor's campaign team (candidate for the Liberal nomination, Peterborough riding) for the past three months), so I have a sense of what your life is like right now: exciting and exhausting all at the same time.

I grew up in Mississauga (as you may recall from some of our off-air conversations) and I continue to have a deep attachment to the City. I think you will do a wonderful job for the people of Mississauga-Streetsville.

All the best to you during the weeks ahead, Christina.I will be cheering for you from Peterborough.

Peterborough New Dance Event

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March 10, 2007

Blogging Against Sexism -- and for My Candidate

Blog Against Sexism DayBetsy McGregor got some got some awesome coverage in Peterborough This Week in conjunction with International Women's Day ("Lack of Women in Canadian Politics Lamented").

Kudos to Lauren Gilchrist, who wrote the article, and the rest of the Peterborough This Week staff for understanding why it's important to write about the gender imbalance in Canadian politics. (Only 20.8 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons are held by women.)

While it would be nice to think that the era of equality has arrived (and the Harper government would really like us to believe that, because it would make it easier for them to justify the fall harvesting of Status of Women Canada), the facts speak otherwise.

Canadian women have a long way to go to achieve anything even remotely resembling equality, and pretending that the age of equality has already arrived isn't going to change the very real challenges faced by Canadian women.

Canadian women voters may only be making 71 cents on the dollar, but that doesn't mean we're oblivious to 71 percent of the facts, even if some people are gambling on the fact that we won't hold them accountable for their appalling record on women's issues. Let's prove them wrong the next time we have the chance to go to the polls -- for our own sakes and for the sakes of our mothers, daughters, and those women who don't have the ability to exercise their right to vote as easily as many of us. Let's make our vote count for ourselves as well as those marginalized, invisible women that the Harper government seems to have forgotten entirely when it has declared that equality has arrived.

And as for equality:

Whose equality are we talking about, I ask?

And what generation's definition of equality are we talking about, I ask?

I don't know about you, but I'm not liking this 1950s Ozzie and Harriet trip down gender equality lane.

I've always hated wearing aprons.

Related:
Chatelaine: Harper's No Ladies' Man by Heather Mallick
WomensEquality.ca
Canada’s Statement to the UN Commission on  the Status of Women Misleading and Disappointing
The Mother of All Blogs: How Dean Del Mastro Turned Me into a Political Animal